Reindeer Facts

Here are some facts about reindeer.

  • The reindeer is a species of deer native to Arctic areas of Scandinavia, Greenland, Canada and Russia. In North America, it is known as the caribou.
  • A male deer can measure up to 215 cm in length and weigh up to 310 kg. Their antlers can grow as long as 135 cm.
  • They are very good at seeing in the snow.
  • Reindeer eat moss, lichen, grass and mushrooms. Apparently, reindeer have also been known to eat lemmings.
  • They have 2 layers of fur, which help to protect them from the cold.
  • Their noses warm the air they breathe in, and reindeer are also able to retain body heat by lowering the temperature in their legs to just above freezing.
  • Reindeer are the only deer species in which both males and females have antlers. They are the only mammals that grow new antlers every year, and male reindeer shed their antlers each winter.
  • They have a strong sense of small and can smell lichen plants in snow 60 cm deep.
  • Reindeer also grow long facial hair to cover their mouths during the colder weather.
  • They can travel up to about 50 km a day and are also very strong swimmers. Reindeer migrate the furthest of any land mammal, often up to 5,000 km a year.
  • Reindeer are especially important to the local people of northern Finland, known as Sami. The Sami have almost 400 different words for reindeer products (such as food, tools and clothing).
  • The reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh were first named in an 1823 poem, A Visit From St. Nicholas (also known as Twas the Night Before Christmas). The poem made reindeer one of the most popular of Christmas symbols.
  • The most famous reindeer is Rudolf, well known for his red nose. Since first appearing in a 1939 story, he has appeared in dozens of books, films and TV shows.

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